Here we are: the final Big Board before the 2013 NFL Draft.
Once again, I'll offer the reminder that the Big Board is not meant to predict where players will be selected come April 25-27, but rather is an evaluation of the top talent available.
Just as with the move from Big Board 3.0 to 4.0, the adjustments made from 4.0 to 5.0 are somewhat minuscule -- 38 of the 40 players who were included in the last rankings stayed in these newest rankings. There was more shifting within the top 40 this time around, a result of Pro Days wrapping and some players progressing (or struggling to progress) on the injury front.
Check out the Big Board, then roll back here for a closer examination of these three key topics of conversation:
1. Where are all the running backs?: Eddie Lacy had been a fixture in Big Boards one through four, but he's out of the top 40 after reportedly showing up out of shape for his own Pro Day. His absence leaves exactly zero running backs on this final Big Board.
So, what gives?
Well, I'm still of the opinion that Lacy is the best back in this class but his shaky pre-draft showings have that up in the air. And in piecing together a two-round mock (for my own benefit, mostly), I did not have a back coming off the board until St. Louis at No. 46 -- and I felt unsure about even that.
The value at running back looks like it will come later in Round 2 and into Round 3; compared to other positions, even in what's perceived as a draft without elite talent, there are minimal game-changers at RB. Maybe Lacy or Gio Bernard or Johnathan Franklin will slip into Round 1, but the safer money is on teams waiting to address their backfields.
2. More on the cornerbacks: There are three CBs in this final top 40 -- Dee Milliner, Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant. But there probably are a good eight or 10 cornerbacks that are within this draft's top 80 prospects.
The second wave of players at that position includes Johnthan Banks, Darius Slay, B.W. Webb, Jordan Poyer, Robert Alford and Leon McFadden, to name a few. Plus, Houston's D.J. Hayden, who nearly died after suffering an injury in practice last season, could rise rapidly on draft day, so much so that Peter King mentioned him as a possible first-rounder this week.
This is one of the positions that I hinted at above in the RB write-up. Milliner figures to be taken early, and if teams worry that will set off a cornerback run, there are plenty of candidates here that may be drafted before running backs start flying off the shelves.
3. Sharrif Floyd vs. Star Lotulelei: Floyd landed at No. 4 in the final rankings, with Lotulelei at No. 8. It would not surprise me one bit, though, to see Lotulelei come off the board earlier than Floyd -- possibly even as high as the first or second pick.
Really, teams searching for defensive line help cannot go wrong either way here, assuming Lotulelei's heart worries stay in the past. Both players are capable of lining up at a number of different positions; both players could slot into either 3-4 or 4-3 fronts.
Lotuelelei brings a bit more bulk to the table -- he came in at 6-foot-2 and 311 pounds at the combine, compared to 6-3, 297 for Floyd. Floyd, on the other hand, may have more upside. One or both could wind up slipping, should there be an early focus on offensive linemen or outside linebackers/defensive ends. I'd have no issue, however, taking either Floyd or Lotulelei in the top 10.